New Battletome Hedonites of Slaanesh 2021 Review
A new age has begun and the Prince of Pleasure has been reborn in the Mortal Realms, a side effect of Morathi’s quest for Godhood. Drawing the sadistic followers of excess to his birth crater in Ulgu, The Hedonites of Slaanesh ready themselves for war.
Today, alongside the Daughters of Khaine release, Battletome Hedonites of Slaanesh is up the pre order with a whole host of new miniatures bringing the mortal followers of Slaanesh to Warhammer Age of Sigmar. We were very lucky to be sent a copy of the new battletome a little early to review for you all, so read on to discover all the exciting new things that lie inside! I’ve also put together a video walking through the new book, so if you would rather watch than read then make sure to check out the YouTube video below.
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Battletome Hedonites of Slaanesh
The previous Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome for Warhammer Age of Sigmar was only released in 2019, but it’s safe to say it has been one of the more controversial books for the game. From a Depravity Point summoning system that ultimately had to be toned town due to how quickly you could generate them to the start of what was known as the “Activation wars” with frustrating abilities that altered the way combat activations worked, its safe to say that it was often less than fun to be on the receiving end of a Slaanesh army. White the book had adjustments and points changes, I think it was still time for a revision of the book to modify these core mechanics in order to create a more balanced army.
With the new Battletome, The Warhammer Studio have taken a knife to the bits that didnt work so well and breathed new life into them like the offspring of Slaanesh himself! In addition to this, the range has also been massively expanded with new miniatures for mortals, something that didn’t get much love in the previous battletome.
As with all Games Workshop books at the moment, the presentation is great with well designed pages, Slaaneshi flourishes and flavour pieces and some gorgeous new artwork including the stunning cover! As you would expect, we also get photographs of the ‘Eavy Metal miniatures and full army shots, something that I always enjoy looking at in the absence of being able to see them in the flesh at Warhammer World!
The first part of the book covers the lore of the Hedonites of Slaanesh from the shattering of the World-That-Was up to the events of Broken-Realms Morathi and Slaanesh’s return to the Mortal Realms – I’d have liked to have seen more teases of what the reincarnated Slaanesh is up to, but I imagine they will be a story thread picked up further down the line! We also get a section covering the background of a whole host of units including the new mortal followers and the two new named characters Glutos and Sigvald, with the latter picking up from where we last saw him – being humiliated by Throgg during the End Times.
We also get a decent hobby section with painting guides for a wide range of models – while most of this is lifted directly from the previous book we do see new techniques for a number of the new models added in this wave, which is nice to see here! We also see some additions of contrast schemes in order to get your models on the battlefield as quickly as possible.
On to the rules themselves, we immediately see some changes with the Allegiance Abilities for the army.
Euphoric Killers is much the same, giving exploding hits of 6s (Turning into 3 hits in a unit of 20+) however it now only effects Hedonite models rather than Slaanesh models meaning that non-Hedonite marked units do not get the benefit of this.
The first big change is Locus of Diversion – Rather than stopping a unit from fighting until the end of the combat phase it now instead stops a target from piling in before attacking. This is going to do two things – firstly stop the silly “activation wars” that was starting to get out of hand and secondly make people have to think about how they deploy their units – screens of troops are not going to be able to get many attacks on a sneaky Slaanesh player as they will not be able to pile into the attacker, instead we may start to see more organised blocks of troops more akin to Warhammer Fantasy units in order to ensure your models get to fight back. For me this is a great change as astatically I despise seeing strings of models fencing off the battlefield rather than blocks of units marching together!
The next change to the Allegiance Abilities comes with the Feast of Depravities summoning rules. This has been rebuilt from the ground up and works quite differently to how it did preciously. You now gain a depravity point at the end of the battleshock phase for every unit that had a wound or mortal wound allocated to it that was not negated, or had fewer models than it did at the start of the turn. Ideal point generation is now doing a little damage to as many units as you can while also taking the odd wounds on multiple of your own units (I do wonder if taking some low damage offensive endless spells and firing them off through your own lines may be a nice little pain engine to generate points?) You then spend these points at the end of the movement phase to summon within 12 of a Slaanesh Hero. What’s really nice here is that the points needed to summon have dropped a lot, with a Keeper of Secret only needing 12 DP to summon. This is a nice change to this mechanic as it actually encourages you to get your own fragile units slightly wounded while also scattering wounds across the enemy force – you might be licking your wounds for the first couple of turns but will rapidly be able to summon a second wave (Who in turn will also be generating points!) From a book keeping point of view this is also much easier to work out during the flow of the battle and gives your opponent some interesting decisions to make on how they attack you without giving points away. Again, like with the Locus I feel this is a much needed change and makes Slaanesh much more fun to play with and fight against!
The different hosts of Slaanesh have also returned and outside of a few tweaks there are no massive changes here – I’m a little disappointed they didn’t add a 4th host based around a purely mortal force, however as you can easily fit the new mortal units into any of the existing hosts then it is no massive issue. You may pick one of these hosts for your army to be based around and you will get some additional traits that enhance that play style along with some bespoke traits and artefacts for each of them – we still don’t get any generic traits and artefacts, so there’s no point in not picking a host otherwise you are just missing out on benefits!
Invaders have not had any major changes, they still get to pick 3 generals rather than 1 but they are not able to use command traits and abilities while within 12″ of each other. They now gain a depravity point at the end of the battleshock phase if 1 general is within enemy territory and D3 if all 3 of them are.
Command Traits and Artefacts look to be identical to the previous book outside of a couple of tweaks such as Delusions of Infallibility now granting +2 wounds rather than 1
Invaders are still a good pick for being able to maximise the bubble for command abilities, you’ll just need to be careful with your positioning as your generals don’t play well with others!
Pretenders have also had a couple of little tweaks – the general still gets 2 command traits, and you still get to re roll hits of 1 for units of 10 or more, however sadly this now only effects melee weapons, so no glorious Blissbarb Archer buffs for these guys! general gets a Depravity point with within 3″ of an enemy unit and D3 if within 2 or more.
As with Invaders the Traits and Artefacts are the same outside of a few tweaks such as True Child of Slaanesh being replaced with Craving Stare with adds D3 to the number of models that flee from Battleshock
Again, another good choice, especially if you are going for hordes of larger units to benefit from the re rolls.
Finally we have the Godseekers who feel a need for speed! These get a +1 to charge rolls and D3 Depravity Points if the general charged with a +1 if any other unit charged that turn giving these the highest potential for passive DP out of the three.
One of the Command traits has been removed, Thrill Seeker being replaced with Sweeping Slash which does splash mortal wounds on the charge (Very good on a herald on chariot with similar stacking effects!) Other than that, the other traits and artefacts are much the same as the previous book!
I have a lot of Slaanesh Chariots, so I am drawn to the Godseekers and their speedy shenanigans!
We get three spell lores in the book, the Lore of Slaanesh is very similar to the previous book with the only difference being Born of Damnation which now only needs a 4 to cast and always heals D3 wounds making this a reliable little heal to chuck on a hero supporting your heavy hitters.
The Greater Daemon powers have had a revision with changes seen on all three spells
Paths of the Dark Prince – This is a new spell that goes off on a 7+ that allows the caster to fly. This replaces the old depravity generating spell that would be a little over the top with the new summoning values!
Progeny of Damnation and Slothful Stupor still work the same way, however are both now easier to cast with the first now only needing a 5+ giving you lots of options for healing up the damage you want to take in order to generate DP.
The Lore of Pain and Pleasure for Mortal casters has also seen some little tweaks, Judgement of Excess has been removed and replaced with Hellshriek, an aura causing a mortal wound to each unit within 6″ on a 5+ which may be a way of getting a couple more depravity, but a little unreliable on a 5+. Battle Rapture hasn’t changed, and Dark Delusions is now slightly easier to cast on a 4+
Next up is the army terrain feature the Fane of Slaanesh, this is still free and has much the same rules, but no longer refunds DP when you summon through it. Still great to have as a focal point to summon from in case you lose your heroes. The gambling mechanic still exists too where you can get +1 to hit at the cost of a mortal wound (Which is well worth doing now on a back field character for an extra precious depravity point!)
Wrapping up this section we get Path to Glory rules along with 2 Slaanesh themed Battleplans, the first one giving the Slaanesh player the objective of generating 18 Depravity by the end of the game, and the second one having the defender trying to flee from a Slaanesh ambush. Both look fun and deserve a play!
We have got lots of new units in this book, so in this review I’m going to focus on those that have changed and the new units added – a lot of the old stuff has had few changes from the previous book!
For Warscroll Battalions we still get the existing ones from the previous book, but in addition to these we get 3 new ones:
Depraved Carnival – this requires 3 Lords of Pain or Shardspeakers and 3 units of Blissbarb archers and allows a unit of archers to shoot in the hero phase, this is pretty good as the Blissbarbs are ace and a good way of getting a couple of wounds on a unit in order to trigger a depravity point, though for the cost you could just bring another unit of archers (though admittedly you are getting another artefact, command point and less drops as a benefit too!)
Nobles of Excess – This needs 3-6 Painbringers or Twinsouls and gives them rerolls to wound on the charge, very good for getting these elite units performing to their best!
Exalted Speed-Knights – This one needs 2-3 Blissbarb Seekers, 2-3 Slickblade Seekers and 2-3 Seekers and allows D6 of them to move 6″ at the start of the game, really nice again but minimum costs are going to add up with all the unit requirements at around 1200 points. Would make a good start point for a hellishly fast Godseekers army though!
Keeper of Secrets
Only one real change here, the command ability Excess of Violence now can only target other units, so they can no longer target themselves – can see pairs of Keepers being used to benefit from this! Have had a fairly decent 40 points reduction however!
Deadly Symbiosis has changed, if there are equal numbers of Deamons and Mortals units within 18″ then each of those units will get to reroll hits of 1 with melee weapons. This is a really cool rule but will take practice with positioning to pull off! It also gets a cool rule where if someone gets an unmodified hit of 1 against her, then she gets to add 1 to hit and wound rolls against that target! No points changes
No changes to rules but has dropped a massive 50 points!
The Contorted Epitome
Couple of changes here, can now only reroll casting rolls reducing their unbinding ability somewhat compared to the previous book, Horrible Fascination is also tweaked now stopping her target from attacking until she does rather than at the end of the combat phase.
No longer generates DP sadly, and has gone up in points – with the changes in DP however this could still be a good pick for splashing wounds on far off targets and disrupting enemy casting
Slight points increase but no other changes
No profile changes across the heralds but points increases across the board
Much like the heralds the various chariots have not changed, Seeker Chariots have gone up a little and the other chariots have gone down in points. Seeker Chariots are still battleline in a Godseeker army
No changes, but have had a small points cut
No changes, but have had a hefty point increase
Improvements for both variants with the claw spears doing +1 damage on the charge and the scourges getting both an extra attack and giving models targeting them -1 to hit when they charge. Sadly like with the seekers have have had a points increase.
The first new model to the range is the big guy himself, riding around in his palanquin he is similar to Katakros in that as he gets wounded he starts to lose his bodyguards. This guy is basically an aura support unit, with a different ability kicking in each battleround starting with giving Hedonites +1 bravery, running and charging from turn 2, ignoring battleshock for nearby units from turn 3, getting the ability to swap spells and cast an extra one from turn 4 and finally rerolling casting, unbinding and dispell rolls in turn 5! He also has a passive +1 to cast, dispell and unbind making him a decent wizard! He also affects enemy units within 12 giving them -1 to hit! he also has excellent board control with a spell that halves the move, run and charge rolls of a target unit. Finally his command ability allows a friendly Hedonite unit to heal any excess wounds that they cause to a unit.
This guy is ace, the model looks great and gives a nice mixture of defensive and offensive abilities to your army, and on top he is pretty good in a fight too and can easily keep his wounds topped up through magic!
Another new model and again is pretty ace, while only having 6 wounds he gets a 3+ save and a 4+ shrug which should keep him in the fight, support with Glutos and magic to have a surprisingly tough unit! His attacks characteristic matches his unmodified charge roll (With a minimum of 5 attacks) and on top of this he gets +3 to charges (+4 in a Godseekers army) making him the master of longball charges! Most terrifingly, his -2 rend Damage D3 weapon cannot be negated in any way, so no cheating death against Sigvald! This guy is an absolute blender able to do a possible 36 damage a turn!
Lord of Pain
This is the new model from Shadow & Pain and is a nice cheap combat hero with an ace 1/3 chance of reflecting damage back to his attacker! Also has a command ability to give friendly Hedonites re-rolls to hits.
A nice defensive caster who gets +2 save when he casts a spell, has a fairly short ranged ability that improves wounds rolls in the combat phase and a spell that gives a target unit -1 to their wound rolls – again really good for keeping your squishy units alive
Fantastic cav unit! 4 wounds each, movement 14 and can run and still shoot giving them a massive threat range. They get 3 shots each and each wound roll of 6 does a mortal wound. They are a little fragile but quick enough to harass objectives while peppering enemy units with shots to generate DP
These are a close combat variant with a decent statline and the ability to run and charge and do mortal wounds on 6s to wound in combat on top of any other damage, with some of the buffs available these would be very good at doing precision attacks on things deep in enemy territory.
This is the first of the two new elite infantry units, and can be taken as battleline with a Lord of Pain as the general. These guys are probably the tankiest unit in the book with a 4+ rerollable save and 2 wounds a piece. Fairly decent combat unit too with the ability to cause Mortal Wounds.
A more offensive take on the previous unit, and again are battleline with a Lord of Pain. 3 attacks each with Damage 2, they get to pick a special rule each turn – either re-roll all hits or gain a 5+ shrug. Both of these units get very good when taken in the battalion that gives them re-rolls to wounds!
Another excellent new unit, the Blissbarbs are battleline, can run and shoot and get 2 shots each wounding on 3s and while the unit has a homunculus in it, they also offer a little sting as they have -1 rend too. I think Blissbarbs are going to be the go to choice for battle line, as they offer a great source of ranged damage to both doften up the foe and earn DP.
Absolutely gorgeous models, but perhaps a tad too expensive in points for what they do. They are fast at 8″ and get 4 attacks each when they charge, plus at the end of combat you roll a dice for each model in the unit and they cause a mortal wound for each 4+, however with 3 wounds and only a 5+ save I feel these are going to be picked apart before they hit enemy lines
The Dread Pageant
Fresh from the Direchasm box comes the Dread Pageant and have surprising damage output for such a small unit. Decent number of attacks with some good rent and damage makes a decent little unit for the cost, add in a 4+ wound shrug and I feel the Dread Pageant are going to be worth sticking in your list if you have spare points!
Finally we have the Endless Spells, outside of some cast values these are all pretty much the same as their previous incarnations!
So that is a look at the latest Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome, so what do I think? I feel the frustrating mechanics from the previous tome have been well addressed while still keeping the feel of the army intact. I love the new Depravity Points system, though will need some games under my belt until I get a feel for how quickly you generate DP – I do think some builds could generate at a very quick rate, but with the other big change to the Locus I feel that we won’t see the frustrations previously associated with the Hedonites.
With all the new Mortal additions to the army I think we are going to see some nice varied forces and I’m looking forward to expanding my own Slaanesh army with the new units – mostly for how gorgeous the new models are!
While there hasnt been the longest time between the old book and the new one, I do feel this is one of the times when this revision was very much needed and has given Slaanesh players lots of new things to try out
Battletome Hedonites of Slaanesh is available to pre order today, many thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a copy early to review.